The 90-year-old veteran was on his way to Hawaii for a ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — a battle in which he personally took up arms defending America.
Fox News reports:
According to Hawaii News Now, Ewalt “Walt” Shatz, a WWII veteran credited with shooting down a Japanese plane during the 1941 attack, was scheduled to take a United Airlines flight direct from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Wednesday, but was re-booked on an American Airlines flight leaving eight hours later that included a layover in Maui.
“I was surprised. I didn’t know which way to go. Here I am at LAX with all these people and it’s all new to me. I was just lost I didn’t know what to do which is an awful feeling,” Shatz told the paper.
Shatz was traveling alone and suffers from macular degeneration, an eye condition that limits his sight. “They just left me kind of stranded. Here I’m 90 years old, and I don’t know — I really didn’t have anybody else I could call.”
Shatz said he was told by a United Airlines agent at LAX only two passengers on the Boeing 737 to Honolulu had been booted.
“I thought that they just overbooked the deal and they were trying to get rid of a couple of customers and somebody had my seat — and that’s what made me mad, because I paid for that seat. I paid for that seat and somebody else is sitting in it,” Shatz told WOAI News 4. “I was lost. I didn’t know what to do.”
Thankfully, this heartbreaking story has a happy ending. After being rebooked on a different flight, Shatz arrived in Honolulu. Although he arrived later than he planned, he was still able to make the ceremony. He also received a hero’s welcome:
Word of his Shatz’s plight traveled quickly on the Internet, and 71 people – mostly U.S. service members – organized a last-second welcoming party for him at the airport in Honolulu.